All 6 Debates between Baroness D'Souza and Baroness Williams of Trafford

Nationality and Borders Bill

Debate between Baroness D'Souza and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken succinctly to these groups of amendments. Before concluding, I will directly address the point from the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, about the facilitation offence. I can confirm that we do not intend to refer people for prosecution except in egregious cases. We will assume that they are telling the truth and acting in good faith, unless we can disprove it beyond reasonable doubt.

The noble Lord also asked about modern slavery, public order and those forced into criminality. As I said in my opening speech, we recognise that individuals who have prior convictions may be more frequently targeted by exploiters. That is why we are taking a proportionate approach to identifying those who are of public order concern. Trained decision-makers will then carefully consider each individual case and take into account mitigating factors. These will include the nature and seriousness of any offence, the time that has elapsed since the person committed such an offence, whether the offence was committed as part of an individual’s exploitation and therefore the level of culpability attached, and whether an individual is assisting or co-operating with a relevant investigation or prosecution effort.

I think I have addressed the points that noble Lords have made. Without further ado, I hope that noble Lords will not press their amendments.

Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D'Souza (CB)
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My Lords, it is with a great regret that I beg leave to withdraw Motion A1.

Motion A1 withdrawn.

Motion A agreed.

Motion B

Nationality and Borders Bill

Debate between Baroness D'Souza and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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It is a Home Office matter, so he was absolutely right on that, but it remains very important. Putting Ukraine into strong focus does not take away from our concern for what is happening to the people of Afghanistan. I doubt that it is getting any better; possibly it is getting worse. They still need our help and support.

On ARAP, the Home Office works with the MoD and the FCDO to ensure people’s safe passage here. I appreciate the sentiment behind the amendment, which seeks to widen further still the eligibility criteria, but it is not necessary to put the suggested changes in primary legislation. The Immigration Rules are designed to be altered where needed, with the approval of Parliament, to enable us to make changes such as those I have just been talking about. Having them prescribed in primary legislation would prevent the Government responding quickly where changes are required.

In any case, the specific changes put forward here are unnecessary. The ARAP rules as drafted, and changed as recently as December, provide us with the requisite flexibility to allow all those who made a substantive and positive contribution to the UK’s objective in Afghanistan, either directly for or alongside a UK government department, and who are now at risk as a result of that, to come to the UK. This has always been the intention of the scheme, and that is what is being delivered.

On additional family members, the ARAP rules reflect the wider immigration system in that principals can be joined by spouses, civil partners, durable partners and children under 18. It is right that they are consistent with other routes to the UK. In June last year we published guidance on how additional family members can join principal ARAP applicants here outside the rules, where there are specific levels of dependence or risk. This option has been widely used, and by definition provides us with greater discretion than having prescriptive criteria set out in the rules.

Security checks are carried out by the Home Office after the MoD has approved them. On JRs, the Home Office overturns MoD grants only ever on serious national security grounds.

The ARAP scheme has been a huge success. It has provided resettlement to more than 8,000 people already, with a similar number yet to come. The rules in place strike the right balance between providing support to those who need and deserve it and protecting the finite capacity of this country to resettle those in need. I hope the noble Baroness will be happy to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D'Souza (CB)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister, as always, for her answer. I think the most recent pronouncement from the Home Office on the ARAP scheme was that it would in future include only Afghan citizens who were explicitly involved in promoting British values and policies, which necessarily excludes an awful lot of people who worked for British companies but without necessarily being seen to be explicit in promoting their values.

Secondly, the Minister said that she did not feel it necessary for this to be in the Bill, but I feel strongly that unless these criteria are in the Bill they will never remotely happen, and therefore it is important that they be included. I feel that the ARAP scheme continues to be somewhat thin, a little confused and confusing and somewhat pusillanimous, but in view of the hour I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Operation Warm Welcome

Debate between Baroness D'Souza and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Thursday 25th November 2021

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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Yesterday’s tragedy brought into sharp focus the human cost of criminals, caring nothing for human life, recklessly bringing people across the channel—and in what did not even look like boats yesterday. I totally agree with my noble friend.

Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D’Souza (CB)
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My Lords, the refugee burden on counties in the south-east of the UK is unfair. What incentives are being offered to families in other counties to open their doors to some of the persecuted Afghans? Are the UK Government considering schemes to place some of the hundreds of those waiting in hotels into settled communities, as is being attempted in Canada, for long-term social, economic and cultural benefits?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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The noble Baroness gets to the heart of what an ideal system looks like, which is integration into communities. There is of course a community sponsorship scheme; I pay tribute to the Church of England, and the Catholic Church in my own area, for the work they have done on that. On what we are doing to incentivise, we are giving £20,500 to local authorities over three years to support each person’s integration. As I say, we are most grateful to those 323 local authorities which have pledged their support.

Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Criminal Conduct Authorisations) (Amendment) Order 2021

Debate between Baroness D'Souza and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Tuesday 12th October 2021

(2 years, 8 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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As I said during my response to the debate, the officers who authorise are trained but the noble Lord is now getting into the area of rank and asking whether the authorising officer would have to be an inspector or above as well as trained. Rather than guess what the right answer might be, I shall write to him on that point of clarification.

Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D’Souza (CB)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister and all those who have contributed to this debate warmly for their response.

I had not expected there to be a Damascene conversion in the past 30 minutes or so. However, I maintain that the SI as it stands is incomplete and find it difficult to understand why it is possible, for example, to talk about sexual abuse but not mention murder or torture. It rather looks as though the Act and the SI exclusively allow murder or torture as crimes that can be committed by covert agents.

The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, talked about the transgressions of policemen and questioned the rank of those who could authorise people to commit crime. That underlines the issue that I have mentioned, which is that sexual transgressions take place in the mood of the moment and are extremely serious. But so are murder and torture. It seems odd that it was difficult to mention that in the Act or the SI. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, reminds us, rightly, that any authorising agent must abide by the Human Rights Act. But there again, if it is a question of abiding by that Act, what is the difficulty in mentioning serious crimes such as torture and murder? It therefore seems that there is reluctance on the Government’s part to circumscribe the kind of crimes that can be committed within the CHIS Act. I wanted to put that on the record because I fear that the matter is unclear and the lack of clarity will have adverse consequences in the long run.

I nevertheless thank the Minister for patiently going over ground that we have covered at length previously, but it is worth taking a stand on this SI. We so rarely get an opportunity to really discuss SIs on the Floor of this House and it is important to do so. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy

Debate between Baroness D'Souza and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Wednesday 15th September 2021

(2 years, 9 months ago)

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Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D’Souza
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking through the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy to support (1) individuals, and (2) groups, working on Official Development Assistance funded projects on gender and women’s rights in Afghanistan.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, the Afghan relocations and assistance policy was set up to facilitate the resettlement of Afghan nationals who worked with the UK Government in Afghanistan. A number of gender and women’s rights activists were evacuated as special cases under Operation Pitting, and those still in Afghanistan may be eligible for resettlement under the Afghan citizens’ resettlement scheme.

Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D'Souza (CB)
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I thank the Minister. What precise assessment has the FCDO made of the number of affiliated academics and/or researchers currently in hiding? What on-the-ground assistance can be relied on to ensure their safe evacuation within the next few days?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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As the noble Baroness will know, safe evacuation within the next few days is incredibly challenging, first, because of the lack of consular assistance and, secondly, because of the dangers in getting people out. But the schemes that we are running will enable people like those the noble Baroness talks about to ultimately find safety in this country.

Hate Crime: Misogyny

Debate between Baroness D'Souza and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Monday 23rd November 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

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Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D’Souza (CB) [V]
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My Lords, hate speech that results in criminal actions such as incitement to violence is to be both deplored and subject to legislation. That said, I am concerned that one of our most precious democratic freedoms—freedom of expression—might be hampered if this is widely applied to include any offensive or misogynistic speech. The distinction between unpleasant, even hateful, speech and criminal incitement is often determined by the context in which it occurs. Does the Minister agree that each hate speech incident should be considered on a case-by-case basis rather than by means of broad legal sanctions?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I certainly agree that freedom of speech is one of the most precious things we preserve in this country, but it comes with responsibility. Where freedom of speech is used as an excuse to inflict a hate crime on someone else, that line has been crossed.